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Parents' Guide to

Life Is Beautiful

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Wrenching Holocaust fable with bittersweet humor.

Movie PG-13 1998 116 minutes
Life Is Beautiful Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 12 parent reviews

age 12+

Missing an important detail

This is one of my all time favorite movies so I wanted to introduce it to my 11 yr old son. It has been a long time so I looked it up on CSM: Just wanted to write this review to comment that under sex it neglected to say that main adult male character says in one conversation maybe 5 times how much he wants to make love to woman he is courting. I would have expected CSM to have noted this. The humor is fast paced but my son caught on on his own after I paused and explained a bit so he started to understand the humor and quick pace.
age 9+

Sad, funny, heartwarming and educational.

My 11 year old is learning about the holocaust in school and wanted to watch the boy in the striped pajamas but I chose this instead as its a favourite of mine. My 9 year old also watched it and was fine. The worst part is there's a brief artistic scene of what my 9 year old saw correctly- a huge pile of bodies. Although this sounds graphic nothing was visible in terms of gore. The film has sad moments but thats part of growing up in my opinion. The rest of the film balances the sadness out and its a truly beautiful story in a horrible time.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (12 ):
Kids say (30 ):

This magnificent film gives us a glimpse of the Holocaust, but it is really about love, and the indomitability of humanity even in the midst of inhumanity. Life Is Beautiful inspired a lot of controversy from people who said that it was an inaccurate portrayal of the Holocaust, and that it was wrong to set a comedy, even a gentle bittersweet one, in a concentration camp. But the movie is never less than respectful of the suffering during the Holocaust, and of the impossibility of any kind of real portrayal of that experience. Even Schindler's List is not a portrayal of the Holocaust. That experience is fundamentally incomprehensible. The best we can hope for from art is that it gives us glimpses.

We often see in life and in movies that people react to extreme adversity by magnifying whatever sense of control they have left -- think of Mrs. Van Dam's focus on her coat in The Diary of Anne Frank, absurd in light of the fact that they never go outside, so she has no real need for a coat, but important because somehow she has chosen the coat as a place to locate her sense of herself as not having lost everything. In Life is Beautiful, the father focuses on his special talent for creating a feeling of magic to protect his son from the worst reality of the Holocaust, the sense of utter betrayal. Very importantly, he gives his son a sense of control, by letting him think that he has made the choice to participate in the contest. And knowing that he has kept his child's faith intact gives him a sense of control, and purpose, that keeps him going.

Movie Details

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